By Chito Chavez
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on May 3, Sunday, stressed that the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has prevented the novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) from claiming more lives.
Año attributed the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country despite the implementation of the ECQ to improved testing capacity, which is now estimated at 6,300 per day.
Earlier, the DILG chief said the ECQ may be relaxed when the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity reaches 30,000 per day.
Despite public grumblings, Año appealed for understanding imploring people that the ECQ has slowed down the spread of COVID-19.
Depending on how things proceed, he said, the President would then decide if the ECQ can be lifted or extended beyond May 15.
In the event it gets lifted, Año asserted the public should adjust to the policies under the so-called “new normal” to avoid a recurrence of the deadly virus.
He believes that the decision to lift the ECQ and the general community quarantine (GCQ) in low-risk areas will be based on how the public adapts to this “new normal.”
Under this “new normal,” Año said the public should get used to regularly wearing face masks in public, observing physical distancing, and hygienic practices.
He noted that this should be observed until a COVID-19 vaccine is discovered.
In an interview with ANC, he cited the case of Singapore, where COVID-19 cases ballooned when its government thought that they already had the virus under control.
In late April, Singapore had a daily surge record of more than 1,400 COVID-19 cases, with most of the new infections linked to dormitories housing foreign laborers. Año noted that Singapore initially kept the viral pandemic in check with its strict testing and contact-tracing.
But as its government thought everything was under control, anti-COVID guidelines were relaxed, which resulted to a fast-moving second wave of cases.
The DILG chief noted that the country should be wary of being complacent as things may worsen if the “new normal” policies are not enforced.